United Nations officials in Sierra Leone
today said there appeared to be evidence that rape could have been a contributing
factor in the deaths of several women returning from rebel-controlled areas
in the south of the country.
According to a UN spokesman, a human rights Officer who had gone to the town of Kenema to assess the health and social services for rape victims, had reported that the treating physicians "strongly suspect" that injuries caused by rape and sexual abuse, as well as HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases, had contributed to the deaths of several female abductees who had returned in recent weeks from the region controlled by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
The doctors said that in the past week alone, twelve children and women have died from complications arising from physical abuse, poor medical treatment and malnourishment they experienced in RUF-controlled area, spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York.
In other news from Sierra Leone, a UN patrol travelling 30 km from the eastern town of Kailahun to Buedu was obstructed by a local RUF Commander, who said prior permission from RUF leader Foday Sankoh was required for the patrol to go forward. The patrol will make another attempt to go to Buedu on Friday, Mr. Eckhard said.